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The World Bank has approved US$72 million in new financing, under three projects to benefit Lao PDR which focus on reducing malnutrition in children and improving public resource use and service delivery.
World Bank Director for Lao PDR, Myanmar and Cambodia, Ellen Goldstein said, One in every three children in Lao remains chronically malnourished, and maternal and child malnutrition is estimated to cost Lao an estimated 2.4 percent of national income annually. We want to support Lao PDR in developing its precious human capital by tackling malnutrition.
We have adopted an innovative multi-sectoral and long-term nutrition convergence approach in which multiple World Bank-financed operations come together to intervene across key sectors, while converging on the same households in the same geographic locations. We expect this will be most effective in getting results to eliminate stunting.
Households in four northern provinces with high levels of malnutrition will benefit from the US$25 million Scaling-Up Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene Project, which will provide access to improved water supply, sanitation, and hygiene services.
These same families are targeted by the US$27 million Reducing Rural Poverty and Malnutrition Project, which supports the Government to strengthen the building blocks of a national social protection system and implement a conditional cash transfer program for improved nutrition.
The innovative multi-sectoral nutrition convergence approach will come together in Xieng Khouang, Houaphan, Phongsaly, and Oudomxay provinces. In these areas, chronic malnutrition affects over 40 percent of all children under five, with long-term adverse impacts on height, brain development, and their ability to succeed later in life. These two new projects complement three others supported by the World Bank in health, education, and diversified food production.
The US$20 million Enhancing Public Finance Management through Information and Communication Technology and Skills Project builds on reforms already undertaken to put in place a basic public financial management framework.
World Bank Country Manager for Lao PDR, Nicola Pontara said, The project supports a new financial management information system which will improve the coverage, timeliness and transparency of financial reporting in Lao PDR. It also supports a new public finance management skills training program. More efficient and transparent financial management can benefit the entire population in the long-term by improving public service delivery through better use of public funds.
The preparation and implementation of this project is supported by the Public Finance Management Reform Program, funded by the European Union, which is providing technical assistance and capacity building.